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THE TORCH:JUNE 2004

THE BOTTOM LINE

†††† Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

††††††††††††† Kingston Teachersí Federation

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† LOYALTY

†††† After only three years into his first position as a superintendent of schools, Peter Litchka announced on May 27 that he was a finalist to become the superintendent in North Salem, Westchester County, a district with fewer k-12 students than the student population at KHS. When he took the Kingston position, he had inferred that it would be his last position in education. All of that was before Kingston supported his doctoral candidacy at Seton Hall. In the midst of his personal advancement, the Board of Education President, B.A. Feeney announced last year that with a full year remaining on his contract, the district had given him a new three-year deal. Itís not the first time, nor will it be the last, that the Kingston system has supported an administratorís personal growth.

††† Someone showed me an editorial from the Daily Freeman from a couple of weeks ago. In it, they cited the need for stability in the Kingston Schools. Well, Iíve got news for them. There is and has been stability and itís called building teachers and staff. Itís those veterans who have worked in the buildings for many years. Over the past 15 years, district leaders have come and they have gone, but the teachers and staffs in the buildings get it done! When administrators get amnesia, loose their backbone, and begin to speak with a split tongue, it is the teachers and staff who continue to get the job done every day, every month, every year. And, yes, there are those loyal administrators who serve a variety of masters yet go to bat for the people in their buildings. They also get the job done.

†††† Itís ironic that in this month of June, when the Board of Education accepted the resignation of the superintendent, the secondary schools character virtue is LOYALTY. If our character is who we are, Isnít faithfulness to a community indicative of that virtue? Arenítthese Ďglobalí searches for leaders, therefore, contradictory of this important virtue. Canít we learn to apple our understanding on a more than superficial basis?

†††† And, by the way, the North Salem representatives came to Kingston AFTER making Dr. Litchka their sole finalist. Thatís akin to Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. Underwood of the Kingston Board visiting Brunswick, Georgia a month AFTER Mr. Litchka was hired in Kingston. No wonder superintendentís donít stay very long and continue to move. There is opportunity at every turn.

††† So, there will be those outside of the loop who will always think that a divine seer (by way of 30 hours of administrative instruction) will appear and make a difference. Those within the gates all know that the teachers and staff make the difference in the classrooms. Congratulations!†††

††† And thatís the Bottom Line.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† EDITORIAL

†††† The KTF did an analysis of the voting records after the May 18 defeat of the budget. The results were startling and disturbing. In the only government area where there is a referendum to approve a budget, voter apathy rules. And, it rules as an insulting worst case with those whose jobs and positions are directly affected.

††† In the Kingston district, there are 1266 registered people who are NYSUT members, whether they work in Kingston or elsewhere. Of those 1266, nearly 800 DID NOT VOTE! This UNACCEPTABLE! If you are not with us, you are against us and you make our job that much tougher.

†††† The KTF was able to clearly identify 500 members and to call them on June 14 to remind them to vote on June 15. Good thing, because the ĎNOísĒ turned out another 50% of their supporters and the 500 votes were needed.

†††† After the budget defeat on May 18, the KTF had to meet with the district to look over and to respond to austerity budget proposals. Itís work that would have been unnecessary if those 800 NYSUT members, over half of whom are KTF (including ESP) active or retired members, had voted and supported education.

†††† In each future election, we urge the KTF leadership to continue to perform the work necessary to ensure to solidarity of the Federation. If that means continued vigilance of voter registrations, then so be it.

We are all in this together. As KTF President Hugh Spoljaric has stated many times, ďCareers in education are more than just a classroom job!Ē We agree. There is a civic responsibility to vote and a moral responsibility to support education.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† BUDGET PASSES!

††††††††† The revised second coming of the Kingston Schools budget passed at the polls on June 15. Almost twice as many people cast ballots than had voted in the May election. The margin of victory was 647 votes, but the plurality was not as secure as that number might indicate. The vote was passing by less than 300 votes with one school yet to report. The Myer School, typically the biggest voter count, came in with 300+ positive votes to ensure passage. There were more than 1,000 negative votes in the second presentation.

††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††DID WE CALL YOU?†††

††††† In the week preceding the vote, the KTF formed a Voter Registration Task Force to identify all NYSUT members who live in the Kingston district and to see if they voter in the first election. To the dismay of Chair M. J. Reiss and her task force, of the 1,266 NYSUT affiliated members in the district, nearly 800 DID NOT VOTE in the May referendum. They identified 500 and presented the information to KTF Phone Bank Chair Debi Wilcox. Her group called all 500 on the afternoon and evening of Monday, June 14. With the increased negative turnout, these contacts, along with another 900 made the week before, may have saved the budget from becoming an austerity adventure. KTF President Hugh Spoljaric stated, ďHere we have an opportunity to directly impact our working conditions and our careers, and members donít vote. Itís frustrating to think how much extra work it causes all of us.Ē

†††† M. J. Reissí Task Force included Leslie Celuch, Dixon Onderdonk, Jane Fisher, and Christine Marmo. Debi Wilcox Phone Bankers were Rick Wixom, Dianne Fried, Jerry Corrado, Joanne Donnaruma, Ellie Vagle, Greg Rogers, and Dale Spencer.†††

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† COALITIONS

†††† In the community, the Benkert family at Allways Moving offered support by running radio commercials supporting the budget and Riccardiís Restaurant added a ďVote Yes on the budgetĒ to all of their newspaper copy.

†††† The KTF teamed up with the District Wide Parent Council and the groups from sports, art, and music (SAM), to run an add in the Sunday Daily Freeman illustrating that for a $170,000 home, the increased taxes would average $8/month.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† POLITICS††††

The budget lost at all of the elementary schools that feed into the Miller School (Crosby, JFK, and Zena)with the exception of Chambers where it passed by only 2 votes. The voting clearly showed the difference between two solid Republican areas. As one observer at Crown Street remarked, ďThe aging population on fixed incomes in the Town of Ulster are more conservative than the active or recently retired people in Hurley.Ē Add in the high taxes of Zena and the income limits of JFK and itís obvious that people have had it with taxes. Unfunded state mandates are stressing local communities and people show their displeasure through the vote on the only budget they can vote on.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† A CLOSE SHAVE††††

†††† Finally, KTF President Hugh Spoljaric challenged all of the registered students at KHS to vote. He said that if the budget passed, he would shave his head on the front steps of KHS on Wednesday morning. Barber Joe LaLima, who has been a fixture on Broadway for 45 years (LOYALTY) and whose son is a KHS graduate certified in Art, did the honors and Stu has a newly shaven head!

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† THE CRUISE

†††† The inaugural KTF Cruise on the Rip Van Winkle took place on the beautiful afternoon of May 27. Aboard were the newly tenured teachers from the past three years and those newly retired. Great music by The Big Smoothies and delicious food, including sushi, highlighted an event where the majority opinion was that it should be a yearly event.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† THE DAY BEFORE Ö

†††† The teachersí workday that occurs before Labor Day is a day set aside as a teacherís workday. It is not a day for the district to schedule any activities that obligate teachers. Any change in that agreed upon day must become a subject of negotiations between the district and the KTF. If the district has a need for training time, such as SASI or defribulators, they can come and present their issue. The KTF is always willing to listen and any change would be for the benefit of all concerned. KTF Teacher contract negotiations continue on a successor agreement. Four sessions have been held and a day-long session is scheduled for June 24.

††††††††††††††††††††††† WHY WE INQUIRED

†††† When the new NHAI health insurance booklets were distributed last October, members received a new enrollment form so that all information would be up-to-date. Those forms were to be returned so that a database could be created to begin the new calendar year. Some members have yet to return the form.

†††† As of January, Trust Find Chair Stu Spoljaric asked NHAI to study the ever increasing cost of prescription medicine and to investigate whether there were any opportunities for cost savings. They reported back that there seemed to be incidents where members were using the NHAI prescription plan for family members who were otherwise covered by their own plan. Immediately, two batches of inquiry sheets were mailed (three weeks apart) to members asking them to identify others covered on their plan and whether that person had their own health insurance coverage. All of those forms are due by June 30. Check the web at www.NYSUT.org, Locals on Line, Kingston Teachersí Federation, NHAI, for any health insurance updates over the summer.

†††† NHAI has projected that the cost savings to the Trust could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The cooperation of the members in this fiduciary responsibility is most appreciated.††††††

REMINDER: June is Open Enrollment month for health insurance. If members wish to change plans, contact Miriam White at the Trust Office, 845-338-5422. The NHAI plan is without cost and the HMO plans (MVP, CDPHP, and GHI) carry a 5% premium copay.(2.5% for ESP).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† APPLE GALA

†††† The 11th annual Apple Gala. A celebration honoring retirees, graduating seniors, parents, and community members was held at the Wiltwyck Golf Club on June 16. KTF Grievance Chair Suzanne Jordan was MC and Retiree Pat Rust recognized the retirees. The Apple Gala committee consisted of Nancy Chando, Karen Clegg, Joanne Donnaruma, Onnie Dougherty, Don Eakins, Joy Gross, Betty Hendrickson, Beth Keyser, Louise Lefkovits, Katie Miller, Tina Montano, Lauri Naccarato, Pat Neher, Mary Netter, Jen OíBrien, Meredith Parrott, Cookie Reis, Kathy Werner, and Debi Wilcox.

†††† Community Awards went to Fleurette Myers, Mary Netter, and Mary Quirk for their annual organization of the Christmas Ball. The event involves area high school students who are invited and meet each other. Terry and Joe Landi were honored for their commitment to the After Prom Party in hosting graduating seniors on that very important night. And Dann Bigelow was recognized for his creation of and continued leadership of the Kingston Kidsí Classic, now in its eighth year. Dann noted the overwhelming support of the KTF volunteers during every classic. 14 parents were honored, one for each school.

†††† 52 graduating seniors of KTF members received $100 scholarships. The $1000 NHAI Scholarship to the senior exhibiting exception character in mind, body, and spirit went to Alexandra Brown who will be attending Brown University in the fall.

†††† This yearís retirees included Suzanne Allison, Jackie Anderson, Michael Bauer, Carol Boduch, Linda Boyer, Bianca Capuano, Al Carr, Sharon (Sam) Conlon, Linda Coons, Tim Cranston, Frank Cutolo, Helen DuBois, Beverly Elliott, Mary Gaddis, Pat Gleason, Dottie Gordon, Elaine Grega, Gail Kiegle, Pat Kotula, Ellen Listort, Vito LoBello, Elizabeth Manley, Anne Reis, George Relyea, Lois Riter, Jean Schmidt, Louis Spina, Pat Stegmann, Joan Sutton, Pat Uhl, Michael VanDeMark, and Patricia Williams. Best wishes to all of them!